Ask Questions and Get Answers
Posted by Pamela S. on Monday, July 2nd, 2012
The art of the interview is a crucial one for investigators to master. Whether you are a private investigator, a lawyer, or in law enforcement, you need to get truthful answers to your questions.
There is a difference between an interview and an interrogation. Both involve the same goal: ask questions and get answers. An interrogation is usually a more adversarial and accusatory form of questioning. An interview is less confrontational. Sometimes an interview can turn into an interrogation.
This is one of the best police interrogations I have seen. Ontario Provincial Police
Det. Sgt. Jim Smyth interrogated Col. Russell Williams, a high ranking Colonel in the Canadian Forces. He was subsequently convicted of rape and murder. This is part one. Check YouTube to watch the entire interrogation and see how Smyth uses his advanced skills to get Williams to confess.
Building rapport is essential when you are conducting an interview. For me, that part is easy because I am very approachable. The other day I was alone at the beach and a young couple with a baby started chatting with me. When the woman was in the water with the baby, the young man divulged that he had been in jail for domestic assault. This happens to me all the time. Total strangers tell me the most intimate details of their lives, sometimes too much information. On the other hand, I find it much more difficult to interrogate someone. You have to play up your strengths when you are trying to elicit information from someone. If you genuinely like people and they don’t feel that you are playing them, you have
a much better chance of getting them to open up.
If possible, it helps to be prepared before conducting an interview. If you go in cold, with no knowledge of your subject or no prepared questions, you are less likely to succeed. Try to memorize the questions; it appears more like a conversation if you aren’t reading from a list. Use open-ended questions: who, what, where, when, why. Finding common ground goes a long way towards building rapport. Be an active listener. If possible, conduct the interview in a place that is under your control so that you can arrange the seating to your benefit. There are all kinds of tricks you can use to get people to give up information. Read PI Now's article: 10 Interview Techniques for Private Investigators That Quickly Build Rapport.
Reading people is also an art. Non-verbal cues are as valuable as words. How can you tell if someone is being truthful? Learning to read body language and micro expressions can help you determine a person’s mood and truthfulness. Mirroring an individual’s body language also builds rapport.
Interrogation is a specialized skill. We all conduct some form of interview in our daily lives. Employers interview prospective employees, we interview babysitters and service people, but when it is your job to get the truth from a reluctant source, you need advanced training.
An interrogation takes a different path. Police and other interrogators use closed ended questions. The Reid Technique is a method of interrogation or accusatory interviewing that is taught by John E. Reid and Associates. There has been some controversy about the method. Some critics claims that the technique elicits false confessions, especially from children.
The Reid Technique involves factual analysis, interviewing and interrogation. The Reid Nine Steps of Interrogation are utilized if there is an indication that a subject is guilty.
According to a study conducted by the Psychology Department at the University of Portsmouth in England, asking a subject to recall events in reverse order helps to ferret out liars. They have difficulty remembering the lies when asked to reverse the order. Read “Increasing Cognitive Load to Facilitate Lie Detection: The Benefit of Recalling an Event in Reverse Order.” For more information check out: The Lie Guy: The Behavioral Science of Investigative Interview & Interrogation: Beyond the 3rd Degree – Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation.
If you want to learn more about “The Art and Science of the Interview,” PINewswire recommends “Forensic Testimonial Evidence Recovery – The FTER Method” by renowned criminal defense investigator Brandon Perron, CCDI.
Also check out this great website: The Interview Room, E-zine for the Professional Interviewer & Interrogator.
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Sheer has recruited the best from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Secret Service to build a formidable team at Sheer Investigations. Our private investigators have the sensitivity and experience to handle the most delicate investigations.